Crossing the U.S. -Mexican Border
A STORY UNTOLD
America’s government is one that does not tolerate the influx of immigrants from different countries. We are a nation that often scorns these outsiders telling them to “go back where they came from.” A longstanding issue within America is border control and immigration restriction. The illegal immigrants who come from Mexico are often attacked, accused of stealing jobs, and constantly faced with the threats of deportation. However, there are two sides to every story, and one that is not commonly explored is the perspective of the immigrants.
Leaving a place that is considered home and going to a foreign country is no effortless task. The cause behind doing so is often one of necessity and a search for a better life. The main reason for immigration from Mexico to America is the rise in cartel groups and homicides in the former. From 2007 to 2018, the number of registered homicides has risen four-fold. On the list of countries with the highest number of homicides, Mexico is ranked nineteenth. This can be directly attributed to the rising violence of the cartels in Mexico. Economically, a cartel is an organization of individuals that regulate the supply of certain products. In Mexico, the major cartels are large groups that illegally import and export drugs. These drug cartels in Mexico are some of the largest groups of drug traffickers internationally. Oftentimes, rival drug cartels fight over territory or deals, and Mexican citizens are caught in the crossfire. To deter any revolts against their groups, many cartels kill citizens in gruesome ways, decapitating them, cutting off their faces, hanging them. In just three months in 2019, there was almost a ten-percent increase in homicides in Mexico.
To understand the effect cartels have on Mexican citizens, one must first understand the number of drug cartels in Mexico and how they operate. There are four major drug cartels in Mexico: the Sinaloa Cartel, The Jalisco New Generation (CJNG), The Gulf Cartel, and Los Zetas Cartel. Together, these cartels split up Mexican territory into sections of business within which they maintain their drug rings and avoid economic conflicts. The Sinaloa cartel was one of the main drug suppliers for the United States. Once the head of the Sinaloa cartel, El Chapo, was arrested, an eruption of violence occurred as rival groups tried to take over the Sinaloa Cartel. CJNG is one of the most violent groups. They often target state officials, police officers, and journalists and are currently expanding. These infamous cartel groups recruit members at a young age, training them on how to dismember bodies and murder. On average, a sicario, or a personal assassin of a cartel, kills one hundred people while actively part of the cartel. In addition to having large influxes of wealth as a result of their drug exports, cartels also have access to military-grade weapons such as AK-47s. Drug cartels tend to make approximately 40 billion dollars annually, which puts them in a position where they can afford to pay off politicians and the police force. As such, there is much corruption within the police department and now citizens are not just at risk from sicarios, but potentially officers too.
Evidently, the imminent danger of these cartel groups is a pressing reason for many families to travel across the country. Oftentimes it can be a long, strenuous journey that often leaves the travelers impoverished, injured, or dead. With nothing but few clothes and some spare money, many escapees illegally board trains; for many, this is where the journey ends. To avoid getting caught, immigrants have to jump aboard a moving train, which may leave them dismembered. Children are forced to jump onto these trains as well. Infants are carried on the backs of mothers and fathers as they try to scale a slow-moving train. In addition to this, there is a continuous threat of being robbed, assaulted, or even kidnapped. After traveling thousands of miles, many are stopped by the Mexican police. These policemen are sometimes on the payroll of the dominant cartels in the area, which leads to the escapees being killed or assaulted. On average, six out of the ten women who make this journey are raped. For those who are not citizens of Mexico and are traveling those lands to reach the U.S. border, many Mexican immigration officers deport them and they are forced to begin from scratch.
After a grueling journey, the Mexican immigrants finally cross the U.S.-Mexican border. However, the migrants are often caught by ICE and prosecuted. Whether the immigrants seek asylum or try to cross illegally, many families are separated. The parents are deported back home and the children are kept in containment centers. The Trump administration, along with its zero-tolerance immigration policy and campaign slogan of “build the wall and make America great again,” began to separate families by the hundreds. While the official policy that allowed families to be separated has been disbanded on paper, many immigration officers and ICE members continue to separate families as they find loopholes in the court order. Mournful stories of children forgetting their mothers have often headlined American newspapers. There are still hundreds of children who remain in these “shelters” and the conditions they are forced to endure are unsanitary and dangerous. While the controversy of illegal immigration runs rampant in America, there are children to this day who are away from their parents and suffering irreversible harm to their mental health and development.
By: Prerana Rao